Over the years we’ve cackled about Snowmobile of the Year awards and how they seem to fall short of being a fair evaluation of a sled’s worth. The fact is, it’s a pretty daunting task to try to choose only one snowmobile out of an entire model year that is “best”.
There’s something off-kilter about choosing a single sled. It subliminally demeans the rest of the offerings presented that year and unfairly elevates a completely new, unproven model to prominence when it really hasn’t had enough time to earn any real accolades from the snowmobiling public.
Keep in mind, the OEMs love these awards and the magazines, websites and television shows that actually grant Sled of the Year kudos to one particular model are rewarded with plenty of free promotion in ads and on OEM websites and brochures and such.
It’s not a bad deal and I suppose the temptation is always there to choose a single snowmobile. By sheer coincidence these awards seem to always be in a year-to-year rotation so that each manufacturer wins every four years.
Heaven forbid a new model should be so dramatic it changes the rules and the granters have to gloss over it because it didn’t fall into its proper rotation. Oh, well, maybe it’ll win next year, or the year after… get my point?
There’s only one source fully qualified to decide which snowmobile is the best sled of the year. It’s you. You, sitting in those little tiled rooms where you read Supertrax, as actual get-up-in-the-morning-and-put-the-miles-on riding enthusiasts who pay for the snowmobile with your own cash are the ones who should be deciding if a sled is the best one in any particular model year.
Unfortunately, you don’t have much opportunity to ride the newest of the new stuff until you’ve actually gone down to the showroom and bought one. That whole process takes about a 12-month turnaround and by then some mag has already decided on The Snowmobile of the Year.
Several years ago, we decided to create the Best in Class Awards, affectionately referred to as the BIC Awards. The idea was to choose consumer sleds that fall into varying categories based around performance levels, comfort and deep snow capability.
Our choices are based on the riding experiences of our staff team and are gathered by vicariously simulating the kind of riding you do with your own personal sleds. Instead of coming up with one big kahoona, we decided on a whole series of deserving winners each year.
It broadened the scope of the whole deal about giving unfair credit to untried snowmobile models and left enough room to give insight into what we think will be the technology that will shape the future.
We have a lot of fun choosing the award winners and the process goes on all year as we ride. Our group will stop on the trail and someone will proclaim their undying love for a particular sled and how it deserves to be called the best.
There will be limitless counterclaims and much discussion in the Supertrax Cave later about why someone is an idiot for choosing that particular sled and arguments offered why they should choose something else. It’s almost as much fun as the riding.
What’s great about this kind of banter is that it includes anyone who we meet on the trail or who is along for the ride. If we see a particular sled, especially if it’s a brand new one, we ask the owner what he or she likes about it, and why.
This kind of face-to-face insight is extremely valuable because, long ago, we learned there’s no one with a stronger opinion than a snowmobiler… and you’re usually right on the money.
We also run polls on this website asking key questions about some of the characteristics of a BIC candidate we’ve been considering. These polls get a lot of action and your feedback is taken very seriously.
We try to stay away from choosing completely new snowmobile platforms in their first year of production. This can be iffy at best, and our experience has shown us, completely new sleds or completely new engines almost always take a year to get the gremlins out.
In this issue you’ll read about Mark and my own correct opinions on the most deserving award winners.
Although, we sound a little crusty, it’s not far off some of the discussions we have between ourselves and other staff members when it comes to sled evaluations.
We have a lot of fun and if you see either one of us on the trail, we’ll actually tell you which sled we think should be Sled of the Year. I guarantee we’ll have an opinion.